Greenpeace gatecrashes Credit Suisse shareholder meeting

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Activists from environment group Greenpeace gatecrashed Credit Suisse’s annual shareholder meeting on Friday to protest against the Swiss bank’s dealings with companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Greenpeace unfurled a banner criticizing the crude oil pipeline from the stadium ceiling during the speech of Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam, with two people on wires holding the banner.

“I am a democrat and a great believer in freedom of expression,” Thiam said. “I will continue my speech. Everyone has a right to express their views.”

The banner was lifted back up around 15 minutes later.

Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, said in April it was not involved in project financing for the DAPL.

“Allegations that Credit Suisse is the biggest lender to DAPL are false and are firmly rejected by the bank,” it said. “Credit Suisse has business relationships with companies undertaking the construction and operation of the pipeline.”

The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) Dakota Access line running from North Dakota to Illinois drew international attention in 2016 after the Standing Rock Native American tribe sued to block completion of the final link, saying it would desecrate a sacred burial ground.

Environmentalists also argued that potential leaks along its length would risk poisoning the water supply for some 17 million Americans.

In February, U.S. President Donald Trump gave the go-ahead to complete the project. The protest camps were demolished and oil is expected to start flowing in mid-May.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Michael Shields